The long-awaited Peace Corps reunion weekend happened a few days ago. This is the 50th year of the Peace Corps and this was the weekend that loads of events took place in DC. My stage (training group) took this opportunity and organized our own reunion on top of it. Somehow, we managed to get people to fly in from all over the country. Nearly 50 people showed up at the barbeque that took place. People came from San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, New York, Denver, and a few were fresh off the boat (plane) from Cameroon just a couple of weeks ago!
In Cameroon, a popular phrase is on est ensemble, which in Anglophone regions is we are together. Cameroonians say it all the time to signify the unity of a community. You say it before you part ways. With each gathering that I have with my PC Cam friends, I understand the true meaning of this phrase that much more. Those two years will bond us for life. The crazy diseases, frequent discussion of bowel movements, strange/awesome food that we ate, the beers we drank, the ridiculous travels we endured and the general amazing-ness of Cameroon will carry our friendship far into the future.
I witnessed this at the greater Peace Corps Cameroon reunion on Saturday evening. A group
of volunteers who served in the 60’s has maintained the level of friendship that I just described, and they decided totake this weekend to reconnect every volunteer who has ever served in Cameroon. Roughly 200 people were able to make it to this event. My group came from all over the country, these 200 people came from all over the world. One lady I met came from the Philippines!
We heard the first volunteer who stepped foot onto Cameroon speak, and my friend Gabe who had just returned from his 3-year tour gave a speech as the newest returned volunteer. The speeches left me extremely emotional. Even after 50 years, those two years in Cameroon still mean so much to these individuals. That bond is even stronger than I ever imagined. Words simply cannot describe. I was in a room with 180 other people who would otherwise be strangers to me. Yet because when I utter words such as Limbé, Kribi, ndolé and jama-jama, they do not look at me with perplexity, we suddenly share something incredible.
With time, we all change. We go onto different career paths, different lives in various corners of the world, and even change drastically as individuals. But because of those two years in that one country, we will always be, together.